The Florida Panthers and other small market teams may benefit from a brief NHL lockout. The NHL's current collective bargaining agreement expired on Saturday September 15 at 11:59 p.m. and the league has made it clear that there will be no NHL hockey until a new deal is struck.
The Panthers' Revenue
Forbes Magazine estimates that the Panthers lost about $7 million in their 2011 fiscal year. The Panthers aren't alone either; Forbes predicts that 18 of the 30 teams in the NHL operated in the red last season.
I usually prefer to view hockey as a sport rather than a business but on the business end of things it's no wonder why NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's owners want to impose a lockout. None of the team owners are in business to lose money.
Money Lost from the Lockout
If the NHL and NHLPA can't get a deal done by the time the season is scheduled to begin, teams face the possibility of not being able to play. For the few teams in the league who turn a profit this will cut into their positive revenue but for small market teams like the Panthers it may cushion the financial blow.
If the lockout were to extend to the first 30 days of the scheduled season the Panthers would lose out on six home games but would also avoid the burden of two costly road trips, which would take the team through the Northeastern United States and Canada. For a franchise that is operating in the red this doesn't sound like a bad deal.
The Long Term
A long term lockout won't help anyone. I think there's too much money on the line for the NHL to cancel the entire season but that tactic isn't unheard of. The problem with a long term lockout is the league and its teams would not only lose out on potential revenue but also lose valuable fan support as they attempt to nurture the sport in small markets such as South Florida.
The Cats have a series of high revenue home games that start in late November. This home stand includes visits from teams that generate high attendance such as the New York Rangers and the Detroit Red Wings. It would be a nice boost for the Panthers' coffers if those games could be played as scheduled but for now the future is uncertain.
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Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein